Washington has the second highest earthquake risk in the United States, and a Cascadia Subduction Zone quake, with a potential to reach a magnitude of 9.0, is due to strike again.
As state leaders work to make communities more resilient to major earthquakes, many have focused on improvements to public school buildings, especially along the coast where an earthquake-triggered tsunami could pose even more danger to schoolchildren.
Aberdeen School District Superintendent Alicia Henderson said during a Results Washington meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee that “As a school district, we really do need to make some improvements,”.
The school district is working to make seismic upgrades to Stevens Elementary School which was built in 1954 and was last renovated in 1976.
The meeting earlier this year focused on seismic safety in Washington schools and other vulnerable buildings.
More than 20 leaders and emergency preparedness experts from around the state attended the meeting.
Current studies show that Grays Harbor communities, including Aberdeen, face the highest risk statewide of experiencing a tsunami following a major seismic event.
Henderson said Steven’s location poses a huge logistical challenge in getting every student evacuated to safety in the event of a tsunami.
“It is definitely in a precarious position with regard to not only tsunami inundation, but also the distance for evacuation of students to get to higher ground,” she said.
Inslee closed the meeting by pushing state leaders to focus on the short-term goal of prioritizing the most vulnerable schools, and the long-term goal of assessing every single school in the state for safety.
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